The Pentagon is now discouraging anyone from reporting about or sharing ISIS propaganda. Apparently, it’s a national security risk if the American people even know such content exists.
“ISIS is suffering significant losses in both personnel and territory and they are using this type of propaganda as a desperate recruiting tool,” Col. Rob Manning told reporters Monday. “We ask the media and the public and all responsible entities not to aid these terrorists in recruiting efforts by viewing or bringing to attention these images, these videos. You are complicit in amplifying ISIS propaganda video if you do that.”
Respectfully speaking, Colonel, but that’s bullshit. It’s worth noting that the military would have been able to evade what little scrutiny about its mission in Niger if not for the fact that any of our soldiers were killed. Demands for greater secrecy in these shadow wars, where there’s already a stunning lack of public accountability, is not what we need.
Generally, I recommend that people not watch ISIS propaganda only because it’s shocking and disgusting. Where I make an exception is for people who want to develop a better understanding of what Daesh is, what its goals are, why it’s so hard to bury it, and how ruthless it is. You do get that by watching their propaganda. The unfortunate reason that I think this is true is because Western governments and even the press aren’t telling us much about anything.
The US government, in particular, tells us that ISIS is on the run and defeated, yet willfully downplays it when they carry out a successful attack; which they did in Niger, as painful as the losses from that ambush were.
Remember that guy who carried out the worst mass shooting in American history in Las Vegas last October? You might have heard about it. ISIS claimed that attack, but law enforcement authorities denied any ISIS connection. We still don’t officially know why the killer did it, although I vaguely remember something being said about comped sushi.
I maintain that Las Vegas was an ISIS-inspired attack, at minimum, and a successful one at that. The reason for that is that I’ve studied their methods and recognize it as being their style of attack, I’m acquainted enough with their messaging to know that they don’t claim attacks they had nothing to do with, and (sorry to say) I’ve learned that when a government denies that ISIS had something to do with when they claim they did, it’s the government that’s lying. It happened with the Orlando Pulse shooter too. They denied it until long after people stopped paying attention to the story, but had to tell the truth about his ISIS connections when they prosecuted his wife.
To be sure, there are good reasons for the military and law enforcement to try to suck the oxygen out of ISIS propaganda by virtually quarantining it. I’d say that there are two primary ones.
The first is that maybe ISIS really is on the way to extinction and they would prefer to not let would-be recruits see that they are still drawing blood here and there. I can respect this insofar as I recognize that the fight against ISIS is an information war as much as it’s a regular one with bullets and bombs. The problem is that governments have to mislead the public to make it work. ISIS uses that deception to bolster its propaganda and the true believers and the vulnerable know where to find it.
Second reason governments might want to keep ISIS propaganda and successes out of the public consciousness is because they know full well that the fight is not going as rosy as they would have us believe. They don’t have a good handle on the other “lone wolves” or cells that are operating in our countries. They don’t really know how to handle the ISIS diaspora with the thousands of defeated jihadis returing to Western countries. They also have no idea how to secure the peace in post-ISIS Iraq and Syria and chances are that they’re going to continue to lie to us about the nature of our military operations there long after the last soldier of the Caliphate is gone.
Maybe they would just prefer not to alarm the population, I don’t know. Either way, I reserve the right to conduct research by viewing and reading anything that is legal for me to do so. I’ll also keep asking questions when I see something that doesn’t make sense.
Shame on anyone who implies that this is unpatriotic even as he actively tries to keep the American people ignorant about a dangerous threat against their safety and well-being. Public officials lying about their apparent inability to protect the homeland isn’t merely unpatriotic, it’s borderline treasonous. Even more so when they attack free speech in the process.